Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Going Green: Metcalfe's Law and the Enernet

Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet, founder of 3Com and now with Polaris Venture Partners is interviewed by Tara Seals in the December 2007 issue of xchange magazine in an excellent article titled Telecom's 40 Shades of Green. In the article Metcalfe describes what he calls the Enernet, a standardized, networked web for the distribution of energy, much as the Internet distributes information.

Seals refers to Metcalfe’s Law in the article, which Metcalfe first used to describe Ethernet systems, and discusses how it applies to alternative energy systems using sources like solar, wind or bio-fuel. Here's a quote from the article describing Metcalfe's law:

Metcalfe’s Law says that the value of a telecom network is proportional to the square of the number of users of the system; the more distributed users there are on the system, the greater the value of the network and of those endpoints themselves. In other words, it describes a blueprint for an explosion of growth, and explains many networking phenomena we have today, from the Web to social networking. Standards+Metcalfe’s Law = efficient, sustainable, viral, organic networking growth.

Solis Energy is mentioned early in the article - you've probably seen Solis or Solis-like solar generators driving along highways or along airport runways. The companies Solar Power Plant (SPP) series are designed for low wattage telecommunications devices like wireless access points, cameras and security systems. Equipment can be powered directly by 12, 24 or 48 volts DC, by Power over Ethernet (POE) or inverter supplied AC. The company claims, with the right product selection, continuous power for 7 days without sunlight. There are also Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) modules for Solis SPPs that allow status monitoring of temperature, battery, load and photo-voltaic power.

On a much larger scale, Google has installed the largest corporate panel solar panel installation in the U.S. at the Mountain View, CA Googleplex. To date. 9,212 solar panels have been installed on eight buildings and two carports. The system installation company, EI Solutions, has a great fly-over video linked here. Additional panels will be installed to complete the 1,600 kilowatt project. Google has a site up on the web (linked here) that charts energy production for the project.

No comments: